A Daughter of the King - Chapter Twenty-Six
The company was taking no chances of getting caught by the wood-elves. Mandy's feet were still slightly dripping blood, but Naraka knew that if he made her run now, her feet would split open even worse. He glanced over at Moka, who was carrying her right now. The Erusen was watching the trees, and Moka just ran, ignoring everything else. Naraka knew that they were about two days away from where they were going. He didn't think that the trackers would catch up to them before then; and when they did find them, it would be too late. Naraka ordered the men to pick up the pace.
Elwen rode ahead of them as a scout. She could see Mirkwood, but the company had disappeared. "They must have entered the forest," Elwen thought, her eyes on the lookout for anything. Suddenly, she caught sight of something dark. It didn't appear to fit in with the rest of the land, so she wheeled her horse over to it. She jumped off and picked up the pair of boots. "They are making her run barefoot?!" Elwen growled angrily. She walked several paces and found what she was looking for, blood. There was a strong trail of blood going in the direction of Mirkwood. Elwen leaped back on her horse and waited for Gandalf.
"Mithrandir," Elwen showed him the boots, "They are in Mirkwood."
"Let's go." Gandalf quickened their pace.
Elwen met Tethcelebel's eyes. They both knew that if they were too late...
The company of orcs and men were now only a day's journey from their destination. Mandy was sitting, her eyes glittering in the firelight. She had not given up hope, even though it had been a week and a day since she was taken. Grishna smelling the elves had helped restore it for her. She wondered what sort of evil thing would be behind all of this, besides Morgoth, of course. Sighing, she decided she wouldn't dwell on it.
"By Elbereth," she muttered slightly, "I'll know soon enough."
She glanced at her feet. They weren't healing well, more like they were scabbing and then getting the scabs rubbed off. She could now walk a bit, but she knew she couldn't run if she wanted to. She had thought about trying to escape, oh how she had thought about it. But now with her feet ripped up, and as they got deeper into the forest, she knew she wouldn't have a chance. Even if she did get away from the orc and men, she would still have to find her way through the forest, fighting spiders and who knows what else. She shook her head. It looked like she was stuck with them. She slept fitfully, tossing a bit.
"They were here, not more than a day ago." Glorfindel spoke, examining the remains of the fire. Tethcelebel, Elwen, and the others wandered around, looking for any other clues. Tethcelebel followed the footprints, letting her breath out through her teeth as she came upon the spider.
"Elwen." she called, "I think you should see this."
Elwen came over and smiled grimly at the dead spider. "Had a run in with a spider, Celebel?" she asked, glancing it over.
"No, but they did." Tethcelebel motioned to it, "it hasn't been dead more than a day."
"We are gaining on them." Elwen said, kicking the spider off of the path. She looked darkly into the forest, knowing what terrors could be there. She, having grown up there, had explored with her brother and had had quite a few close shaves with him. They mounted up, and Elwen led the way along the path, her eyes being used to the darkness in Mirkwood. Unbeknownst to them, they were not going to catch up in time...
Mandy woke to hear Naraka and the head orc, Ulka, arguing together.
"We are about a day away." Ulka said, crouching near the fire, "We'll get there tomorrow night."
"We should go through the Carrock." Naraka argued, "We would cut off time. Besides, it is the fastest way."
"No, I will not have my men go through there." Ulka growled, "And I won't be risking the Erusen by going through there!"
"How would we be risking her??" Naraka snarled a curse, "There's nothing there except spiders."
"That shows how much you know, Southron." Ulka sneered, "There is a thing that guards the Carrock. It's said that it eats goblins and orcs as a snack. And it doesn't take kindly to trespassers."
"Is that all??" Naraka shook his head, "Well of all the...that's why my father said never work with an orc."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ulka snarled, leaping up, dagger in hand.
Naraka jumped up too. "It means that you are a..." Naraka yelled. Mandy covered her ears in pain as Naraka cursed in the Black Language.
"I still will not have my men go through the Carrock." Ulka said quietly, his eyes going deadly, "And if you would like to try it, you will be going without us...and her."
"Fine," Naraka shook his head in disgust, "Have it your way! We'll go the long way around." Naraka muttered something under his breath and then kicked some of the men nearby, "Get up! We have to leave. Get the others up as well."
Mandy thought about what Ulka had said as they ran (she wasn't, of course). "Carrock?" she thought, not remembering ever hearing about it, "What is that? And who is the guard? I wonder if he could help me...Lord, rescue me soon," she prayed softly.
The deer ran swiftly through Mirkwood, knowing that the orcs were going to the far north end of it. It bounded out of the woods and up a hill. There, on the other side, near the edge of the mountains, was an oak wood. It leaped down the hill and ran swiftly into the oak wood. It was met by some horses that ran with it into the woods. There was a growl and then silence.
Ulka led the way deeper into the woods, avoiding the Carrock. Many of the orcs glanced warily about, feeling ill at ease. Mandy also looked about, listening. There were many noises, most frequently growls and rumblings of some sort.
"Moka," Mandy tapped the man on the shoulder because he was carrying her, "what is the Carrock?"
Moka gave a sigh, rolling his eyes. "It is the place where the Old Forest Road starts from the Misty Mountains." he answered, "It is said to be guarded by a spirit who is neither man nor beast. It eats orcs and goblins as snacks and hates trespassers."
"A spirit?" Mandy said incredulously.
"Do not ask me, I am just telling you the legend." Moka adjusted her on his shoulder, "Now, shut up."
Mandy complied, but was thinking to herself about this. It seemed like just an old legend, a wives tale. "But," Mandy mused, "So are the Erusen..."
After several hours, the company of orcs and men started coming out of Mirkwood. Mandy blinked as the sun cast light off of the river. The orc carrying Mandy dumped her roughly onto the ground. She breathed in the scent of the clean grass. She smiled as birds twittered overhead. Softly she began to sing:
All creation moves in a cosmic Danse
Before the Lord her King;
And the rhythms, the reason, the rhyme
Of the danse pulses within everything.
And the universe wheels and whirls like
A dervish in perfect seven-step time.
The Lord made the Danse,
And He taught her the steps, and He
Causes the song to shine.
We must danse, danse, danse
Danse in God's honor.
We must yield all our steps unto the King.
We must danse, danse, danse,
Danse in God's honor.
Let His praises ring throughout the earth.
As she sang, her voice rose in volume, attracting the attention of the orcs and men. Birds flew overhead, singing with her. She could see squirrels pause as they listened. Across the river, deer came to drink and leaped away when they smelled the orc, but not before looking straight at Mandy. All of the animals seemed to listen and then joined in their own way.
Suddenly, a hand smacked her. "Shut up!" Grishna hissed angrily, glaring down at her with hate in his eyes.
Mandy looked up at him, making no effort to conceal the joy pouring out of her eyes. "Why?" she asked, "Why should I stop?"
"Because I said so," Grishna snarled, hoping to scare her, "And I can kill you if I feel like it!"
"Kill me?" Mandy laughed, her eyes sparkling, "You cannot kill me. I am a servant of Illuvitar. He is in control right now, not you. Yes, you could kill my body, but I would go to Mandos to be with my Lord. Where would you go, spawn of Morgoth?"
Grishna roared in fury at this and leaped at her. Mandy gasped as he grasped her hair and pulled her head back, his dagger at her throat.
"Are you afraid, Erusen?" he spat, "Your Lord has no hold over me and I will kill you."
Mandy looked steadily up at him, no fear in her eyes. "I do not fear death." she said.
Grishna glared at her. She could feel the knife starting to cut. Suddenly, hands pulled Grishna off of her and pinned him down. Moka was at her side, wrapping a piece of cloth around the cut.
"You fool!" Naraka roared angrily, "You would have killed her!!"
"She should be," Grishna struggled from under the grips of the men, "I would kill all her kind if I could!"
"As would I," Naraka bent down to Grishna, "but she is for the master. Do you understand? The MASTER. If you kill her now, you would have to answer to him. I don't think that would be pleasant."
Grishna shook off the hands. "I will not kill her." he told him, "not yet, anyway."
"Good," Naraka smiled coldly, "That is all I ask of you." He turned to Moka, "Get her up. Let's leave now before we have anymore incidents."
Moka picked Mandy up. They all ran swiftly for they were nearing the fortress.
After three more hours of running, Mandy saw the fortress. Dark and evil it appeared, half hidden in the woods of Mirkwood. It had a tall tower and massive black walls around it. The gate was made of stone with words in the Black Language carved onto it. Mandy could see orcs and men patrolling the top of the walls. As they approached, a Southron horn blew and the gate opened. Naraka took Mandy from Moka and forced her to walk, limping, up the stairs into a room. As Mandy's eyes adjusted, she saw that it was a type of throne room, with a massive throne at the end of it. Naraka walked towards the throne, Mandy in front of him. There was a figure standing in the shadows, watching them.
"My lord," Naraka kneeled, "This is the Erusen."
The figure in the shadows came forward. He was dressed in a black robe that shimmered with flames on it. His black hair was neatly groomed, as was his beard. Mandy saw that he was a striking man, reminding her of someone who could be good or evil. What stuck out to Mandy were his eyes. His eyes were harsh and cold, not appearing to be human.
"Welcome, Aarien," his voice was soft and icy, "I am Ulka-Loome (Evil Darkness)." She made no movement. "You will be most helpful to me." he descended the stairs. She could feel evil flowing from him. "Indeed, most helpful." he glanced over her, taking in her tattered clothes and dirty face. He stood inches away from her, "Perhaps a bath would help you feel more...willing to talk?"
"Nothing you do will make me help you, Ango (snake)." Mandy snarled, jerking away from him. He merely smiled and clapped his hands. A woman came in and led Mandy away firmly. Ulka-Loome watched her go, an evil calculating look on his face.
hey all do you like it so far? *ducks as ppl throw things at her* stop it!! she's gonna get rescued soon!! *races back into Moria, killing a few orcs as she goes*